Four Common Misconceptions About Copyright Piracy

17 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2003

See all articles by Peter K. Yu

Peter K. Yu

Texas A&M University School of Law


Copyright piracy is one of the most difficult, yet important, transnational problems in the twenty-first century. Although legal literature has discussed copyright piracy extensively, commentators rarely offer a "grand unified theory" on this global problem. Rather, they give nuanced analyses, discussing the many aspects of the problem-political, social, economic, cultural, and historical.

This nuanced discussion, however, is missing in the current public debate. To capture the readers' emotion and to generate support for proposed legislative and executive actions, the debate often oversimplifies the complicated picture by overexagerrating a particular aspect of the piracy problem or by offering an abbreviated, easy-to-understand, yet somewhat misleading version of the story. Such oversimplification is dangerous, for it creates misconceptions that not only confuse the public as to the cause and extent of the problem, but also mislead policymakers into finding solutions that fail to attack the crux of the piracy problem.

In light of this shortcoming, this Article discusses four common misconceptions about copyright piracy: (1) Copyright piracy is merely a cultural problem; (2) copyright piracy is primarily a development issue; (3) copyright piracy is a past phenomenon for technologically-advanced countries; and (4) copyright piracy is a necessary byproduct of authoritarian rule. It then attempts to reconfigure the misguided public debate on copyright piracy by underscoring the need to focus on the copyright divide - the gap between those who have stakes in the copyright regime and those who do not. This Article concludes by warning that the United States might not be able to eradicate the piracy problem unless its legislators and policymakers are willing to change the lawmaking process by taking into account the interests of both the stakeholders and nonstakeholders.

Suggested Citation

Yu, Peter K., Four Common Misconceptions About Copyright Piracy. MSU-DCL Public Law Research Paper No. 01-16, Available at SSRN: or

Peter K. Yu (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States


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